This is just the tip of the iceberg. A woman who trafficked 10,000 minors into the labour market in Delhi from places like Chhattisgarh has been convicted by a court. They were employed largely through illegal placement agencies. The children were bought for sums as small as ₹12,000 and used for domestic work. Many, especially minors, are trafficked and forced into commercial sex work each year.
The draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 provides for special courts to expedite trafficking cases. It also provides for more shelters and a rehabilitation fund for victims to rebuild their lives.
According to reports, from 2008 to 2014, there was a 90% increase in trafficking. The trafficked are promised jobs and then pushed into commercial sex trade or sweat shops and literally held in bondage. There has to be much greater co-ordination among the states on this and a mechanism to reimburse the victims. The fact that there are so many illegal placement agencies suggests that there is collusion with the local police.
The issue also has to be addressed at the source. It is extreme poverty and deprivation that make people vulnerable to predatory traffickers. The tribal areas are the most preferred catchment area for traffickers. This should be the focus for the authorities. In many cases, especially those who have been rescued from commercial sex work, the families do not accept them back. They must be rehabilitated and provided the skills to become gainfully employed. Bonded labour, which is also the result of a form of trafficking, should be dealt with although the draft Bill does not touch this issue.
The trafficking law has to work in conjunction with others such as the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act to make it more effective. For most states today, providing food, shelter and housing is seen as a greater priority than tackling traffickers. It is only if the cost to the trafficker is made severe and certain can we even begin to deal with this problem which really amounts to modern day slavery.